Patriots Defense – Top Five Players To Watch In Week 1

Patriots Football Is Finally Upon Us !

The long wait is just about over for us Patriots fans. Let us rejoice!   They are gearing up for week one vs the Houston Texans and their impressive defense. I will be doing an article weekly on who I believe will be key players on both sides of the ball. This week I will focus on the defensive side of the ball.  For those of you who have read my articles before, this should not be a surprise at all. Lol.  Let’s do it!

Photo Credit : Patriots Gab
Photo Credit :Patriots Gab

Who To Watch

1. Stephon Gilmore: He will be paramount in this week’s contest against the Texans as he’ll get the daunting task of matching up with Deandre Hopkins. There shouldn’t be any need for introductions on this one as both players are the best on their team at the positions they play. Deandre is a favorite target of Watson, and look for Gilmore to be locked in man coverage throughout the game. His biggest asset on this defense is being excellent  playing man coverage. I’m very much looking forward to this showdown come Sunday.

2. Jason McCourty:  This for me is more out of curiosity then anything else. His play this week is not a game changer, but I want to see how he has improved.  I think he’s got the perfect teacher in his brother Devin, who already has made the switch from corner to safety.  I think you factor all of this in, and he’s gonna be just fine once he gets comfortable.

3. Dont’a Hightower: I know an obvious one here, but let’s see how he looks post-injury now that the games count. Hightower is without a doubt the Best Linebacker on the team by a longshot. His versatility will be paramount in this game for the Patriots defense whether he’s on the line or in coverage.  Look for Flores to utilize him this game especially in blitzing situations. With Boom you know what you get; let’s hope he remains healthy this year.

4. Derek Rivers: This is another player I can’t wait to see what he brings to the field. With Rivers missing all of last season with a torn ACL, look for him to want to make an impact right out of the box. Rivers, who was the Patriots’ top pick in 2017 (3rd round, 83 pick) has a high motor, and is in a 4-man rotation with Trey Flowers, Adrian Clayborn, and Deatrich Wise.  I think Rivers along with those three will have to set the edge and keep Watson in the pocket.  They absolutely can’t let him extend plays with his legs. This alone could very well determine the outcome of this game.

5. Danny Shelton: This is another guy that is more a curiosity to me. Shelton is a big boy in the middle at 340lbs. He’s a tank at the line of scrimmage.  I think with Brown and the rest of those boys, they can keep the Texans running game in check. What they have to do is get pressure up the middle, while not giving creases for Watson to slip out of.  I think from this article the common theme is keep Watson in the pocket at all cost.  I’m very much looking forward to Sunday.


I think the Patriots defense will hold their own in this one, and I like the Patriots to win at home.  I think until Houston proves they can come up here and win you have to give the advantage to the Pats.  With all that being said, my official prediction is Texans 20, Pats 28.  Let’s hear your predictions for the big game.  Super pumped that Patriots football is back !

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Author: Chris Blackey

Co-host of Boston Sports Blitz. I've been a Boston sports fan from as long as I can remember.